Amazon Silk, the Beginning of the End for Beacon Tracking?

In one of my former posts I talked about how I fell in love with Tealeaf Technology (yes, I work for them now). There were several reasons that the CEM model of data collection and analyses appealed to me. But one thing that I felt strongly about is that the “classic” model of data collection with JavaScript and beacons will have an end. At some point some technology would disrupt the classic “request from browser/response from server” model. I felt strongly that bandwidth increases and trouble from hackers would culminate into a model where most of the processing is done on servers and the browser lightens significantly into more of a terminal than an application. If so, potentially the only choice left for measurement would be done directly on the servers themselves. This “SaaS” model for web analytics could end and morph into something else (most likely at the data center itself). I also happen to think that Tealeaf is heads and shoulders ahead of everyone else when it comes to measurement and customer analyses at the data center level.

How will Silk change everything?

Bezos with Silk Browser

Bezos with Silk Browser

Take heed, everyone is up in arms about the privacy implications of Silk. But the performance improvements and potential protection from Malware will probably win out in the end. Let’s consider the implications.

With Amazon’s Silk browser rather than requesting a web page directly from a web server, all requests are made to Amazon’s Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2). It caches content and requests content from the server housing the web page. Amazon’s EC2 will then determine the best way to serve the web page to the browser. That means the page could potentially be built on Amazon’s servers and delivered any way they see fit. That means images are less wieldy and JavaScript could be pre-built and delivered post-built. So, any 3rd party tracking could be requested from the server and not the browser and it is up to Amazon how that data is delivered.

At first, images will most likely be cached, but as time goes on, by determining which content is dynamic and which content is static, most static content will be aggregated. Cookies may move from the browser to the server. And eventually the browser will die and just become a terminal. The request/response that builds a Document Object Model (DOM) for the page would soon morph because it is now about server to server communications. Most likely it will mean most pages start out static and use a server-to-server AJAX type request to update the requested page.

And, what is to stop the other data centers from doing the same? If this model takes off, soon all requests will be built around a terminal system and everything transfers from server to server. People will stop asking, “Which browser do you use?” and instead ask, “Which Aggregation Center do you use?”.

At this point, it means that the aggregators like Amazon will be at the center of determining which data comes in and which data goes out. 3rd party data collectors are then dependent on these aggregators. If you are collecting web data at your own data servers, you do have access to the dynamic content sent out and hopefully some kind of request for change to static content every time the user requests the static content. Worst case scenario, Amazon and aggregators close the world to the data collection from their system due to an increased desire for privacy. Then we all move back to the data center for our data collection needs. They have every right to ensure their consumers with the statement “we are protecting your privacy, companies are still able to optimize based on data requested directly from their data centers”. It would actually be a good move for them if privacy was a real concern. Many spammers and hackers do use beacons to mark users/computers for nefarious purposes.

Anyway, I’m actually looking forward to a quicker browsing experience, with the potential of protection from hackers and maybe even an increase in privacy (depending on how Amazon wants to approach it). Go ahead Amazon, you’ll get the web tracking companies angry, but remember, they can still collect directly from the data center.

What do you think? Do you think Amazon would restrict data collection for beacon-based data-collection companies and would there be an exodus to the data center? Or do you think a company like Amazon would keep it open in the name of web optimization?

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